Officially revealed during PlayStation’s recent E3 adjacent State of Play presentation, Street Fighter 6 is an upcoming 1v1 fighting game that combines realistic looking character models with bright vibrant paint splash impact effects.
While very little information was given about Street Fighter 6 during its initial reveal beyond a quick look at gameplay and glimpse of some of the starting roster of fighters, one of the more interesting aspects of the game to emerge was news of a new simplified control scheme more akin to Super Smash Bros, where special moves were mapped to a single button and directional modifiers.
As a gamer with disabilities that impact my coordination and memory, I have talked before on this channel about my love of fighting games, but also the fact that I struggle with accurately remembering and executing combo strings in series such as Street Fighter.
The idea of a combat system that would be easier for me to remember, and easier for me to execute, sounded great from an accessibility perspective, so I contacted Capcom, who invited me to their London offices to play an hour of the game to test out the new controls.
So today, on Access-Ability, we’re going to be talking about Street Fighter 6’s new optional simplified control scheme. We’re going to talk about how it simplifies input complexity, what aspects of gameplay are lost to players in the process, and how it compares to past solutions offered in games like Street fighter 4 on 3DS.
So, how does the new simplified control setup work compared to the game’s classic controls? Well, it works by trading a little top end flexibility for a reduced barrier to entry for play.
Rather than featuring the classic control scheme’s six buttons for selecting light, medium, and heavy kicks and punches, Modern features just three buttons, combining kicks and punches of a given weight into a single button, with attacks selected based on character and context.
The remaining face button, Triangle on PlayStation, is a special move button, and functions very similarly to the B button in the Super Smash Bros. series. Generally, special moves are executed by pressing this button, while having the analogue stick pressed in a given direction. There are a few exceptions, such as one of Chun Li’s special moves needing you to specifically hold a direction long enough to charge before pressing the special move button, but generally a control stick flick and press of the button is all you need to execute these special moves.
When it comes to using your super moves, you just need to hit the special and heavy attack buttons together, plus a directional modifier, assuming you have the meter energy to expend.
At its core, this is probably the most notable reduction in input complexity offered by Street Fighter 6’s modern control scheme. Gone are the quarter circle inputs. Gone are the complex multiple button input strings, replaced instead with a simple control scheme that basically functions the same from one character to the next. If you can fire off one character’s specials and supers, you know how to do it for most of the roster, with only minor character specific input quirks to learn.
Beyond that, the rest of the game’s inputs are mapped to the controller’s four trigger buttons.
L2 functions as a simple grab. There’s nothing else to it, that’s all the button does.
R2 on the other hand adds as an automatic Combo modifier. While your heavy, medium, and light face buttons all control their various attacks, holding R2 before mashing Heavy will execute a dedicated heavy attack combo. You can’t switch up attack weight mid combo, so if you hold R2 and start mashing Light Attack you can’t start swap instantly into a medium weight combo, but by either spotting where your auto combo ends, or manually cancelling it by releasing R2, you can manually start a new auto combo as the previous one ends.
One really nice aspect of how the auto combo system works is that the auto combo only executes if the first hit of the combo connects with the other player. This means that if you attempt an R2 auto combo, and your first attack misses, you’ll have an opening to back away or swap to a defensive stance, rather than being committed into the next hit of a combo that didn’t connect.
Lastly, there’s L1 and R1, which both make use of the Drive Meter, a new type of energy meter players need to manage.
L1 is mapped to a Drive Impact attack, which is a single very powerful attack that is fast and damaging, but uses up a large chunk of your Drive Meter, and if it runs out completely, you’ll become exhausted and be unable to use either Drive Impact attacks, or Drive Parry.
Mapped to R1, Drive Parry makes your character invulnerable to any attack beside grabs. You can hold the button down to be invulnerable to non grab attacks for as long as you like, but it does slowly consume Drive Meter to use. However, any time you use Drive Parry to block an attack, your Drive Meter will refill, which is the main way to keep the gauge topped up.
To give a concrete example. When playing as Ryu, Triangle by itself is Hadoken, Triangle and Backward fires off a Tatsumaki Senpu-Kyaku, Forward and Triangle is a Shoryuken, and Down plus Triangle is a High Blade Kick. For super moves, a neutral or forward Triangle plus Heavy is a Shinku Hadoken, Backward and Super is a Shin Hashogeki, and Down Super is a Shin Shoryuken.
And, basically, that’s it. In modern mode you simply have a light, medium, and heavy attack button, a combo modifier, a special button that is modified by analogue stick directions, a two button simultaneous press for super attacks, a grab, a Drive Impact attack, and a held parry. No more complicated combos or inputs required.
So, having had an hour to play the game, what are this new control scheme’s pros and cons?
Well, as a gamer with Dyspraxia and ADHD, I genuinely found this the most accessible playable Street Fighter game I have played in years. The new simplified input scheme didn’t require me to remember character specific combo strings, and execute them with precise fine motor control hand movements in the heat of the moment. I generally struggle both with remembering fighting game combos, and getting my hands to reliably execute them outside of training environments, but with this new control scheme I felt much more in control while playing.
I have talked previously on this channel about the fact that Super Smash Bros is the only fighting game series I have ever really been able to hold my own in vaguely competitively, and a lot of what works about Smash Bros carries over to make Street Fighter 6 feel approachable.
As someone who knows fighting game theory and strategy pretty well, and is largely held back by my own inability to execute on inputs mechanically, I was able to hold my own against an opponent using a fighting stick and traditional controls pretty well, and never felt like, in a casual competitive context, like I was missing out on aspects of the game.
Now, on paper, it is important to note that there are some aspects of the game I was missing out on. For each of the four characters I played as during my hour with the game, each was missing approximately 2-3 moves off of their overall move list to accommodate for the simplified control scheme. I didn’t have access to absolutely every special attack using these controls, and I didn’t have full control over my basic combo strings, but for me that slight loss of a few combat options was a well worthwhile trade.
I am under no illusions that Modern Controls will put me on an even footing with tournament level players taking advantage of Classic Controls to get a few extra options out of combat, but for regular play against average players, I felt a lot less like I was frantically button mashing, and a lot more like I was making calculated choices about which moves to use in combat. I may not have been playing with the full suite of moves, but every move I used was deliberate, and reliably executed when I needed to, and that meant I was able to have a lot more fun, and play a lot more competitively than I would otherwise do.
Sure, a top end professional player will have an advantage against a modern control player, if only because with fewer moves at their disposal there are fewer moves the top end Classic player has to be prepared to counter, and because in the current demo build at least your opponent is told which control scheme you are using, but for casual matches with friends, modern controls really impressively hold their own.
This is not the Street Fighter series first attempt at introducing methods of offering easier access to special moves, Street Fighter 4 on 3DS for example offered players touch screen buttons for super attacks, but this feels like the first time it has been offered as a serious option rather than a one off gimmick, and I genuinely think for most casual players, this control scheme is going to make it easier to play more competitively. Without the input barrier of combo strings present, it’s much easier to think about what you need to do, and do it when the right moment presents itself.
With combo complexity less of a factor, things like watching your distance from the opponent, keeping an eye on your meter, executing an attack that capitalises on a momentary opening, and learning what openings can be effectively published, become a lot more reasonable to players who might otherwise be distracted trying to pull off a precise quarter turn into a rapid face button input string.
Having now put an hour into playing Street Fighter 6, I must say I am feeling really positive about its new controls. From reducing the total number of buttons needing to be pressed, to minimising timing specific combo inputs, this control scheme may not be a replacement for top end tournament level players, but it really opens up more serious play for those who have previously found remembering, or executing, combos a barrier to getting serious about playing Street Fighter.